When it comes to the English language, there are many things that can spark debate about what’s correct and what isn’t. The word irregardless is one of those confusing, contested terms. When it comes to regardless versus irregardless, which is correct?
To settle this debate, we’ll dig into the word irregardless, including whether or not it’s a real word and what it means.
What do regardless and irregardless mean?
Regardless and irregardless mean “despite everything” or “not being affected by something.” They are typically used as adverbs. Regardless is made up of two parts, the root word and a suffix: regard (look) and less (without). Irregardless is a bit trickier because it seems to use a double negative: ir– (not) and regard (look) and less (without).
Here, the ir– prefix accentuates the rest of the word, which is rare but not unheard of in the English language. This could be because irregardless is interpreted by some to be a portmanteau, of irrespective (another synonym for regardless) and regardless. So while you wouldn’t be completely off-base to assume that it must mean the opposite of its more concise counterpart, the reverse is actually true here.
Is irregardless a word?
Yes, irregardless is recognized by many dictionaries as a real word. And although recent online discourse may make it appear that this word is a new development, it’s not. In fact, it was added to Merriam-Webster’s unabridged edition back in 1934, and it has been in use for centuries. (Still, it’s typically labeled as “nonstandard” language because of its strange construction.)
The fact is that language is not static; it shifts and changes. After all, the main thing that makes language useful is that it conveys a meaning that we can all agree on. In other words, it’s a matter of both clarity and social buy-in. And when you use the word irregardless, people will still understand what you mean.
That said, there will still be people who will either cringe or correct you if you use this word, as some don’t accept its existence. (Hence the nonstandard label.) So you’re typically going to be better off opting for regardless instead, especially in more formal contexts, such as in the workplace or for school assignments.
Examples of regardless and irregardless in a sentence
- I wanted to read the banned book regardless of its status.
- She told the truth regardless of the consequences.
- The job posting said qualified applicants would be accepted regardless of their physical location.
- Irregardless of opposition, he still wanted to expand the team.
- They decided they would go ahead with the plan irregardless of the risks.
- She elected to buy the handbag irregardless of the cost.
Regardless vs. irregardless FAQs
What is the definition of regardless and irregardless?
They both mean “despite everything.”
Is irregardless a word?
Yes, although it’s considered nonstandard language, it’s still a real word that can be found in many dictionaries.
How are irregardless and regardless used in a sentence?
Both words function as adverbs and can therefore be interchangeable. For example, you could say something like, “I walked to the cabin regardless/irregardless of the icy trail.”